I had to help give a standardized test today, so I had a sub for my morning classes. The test ended a little earlier than I expected, so when I got back to my room, I had a chance to chat with the sub for a few minutes.
He had read the autobiographical article I’d posted on my newspaper-themed bulletin board and noticed I was an SIUC alumna. He said his girlfriend was from Carbondale, and her grandfather was a retired SIU math professor.
The odds of an English major knowing anyone in the math department were fairly slim, but on a lark, I asked him if he remembered the professor’s name.
“Dr. Elston,” he said, searching for a first name.
“Not George Elston?” I asked.
He thought that sounded right.
“Does he have a daughter named Jetta?” I queried.
“Yeah! You know her?”
Do I know her? She was my seventh-grade English teacher, my little sister’s scholar bowl coach, and the mother of one of my little sister’s best friends from Sunday school. In high school, I used to grade papers for her while babysitting her daughters. That experience more or less cemented my decision to become an English teacher … and here I was this morning, 500 miles and 22 years removed from Jetta’s classroom, talking to her niece’s boyfriend.
I never cease to be amazed by life’s odd little John Guare moments….